custom sheep yards

Should you build custom sheep yards?

Custom sheep yards have quickly become increasingly popular because it’s thought that they make it much easier and quicker to manage sheep movement. Many people favour circular shapes over rectangular shapes for custom sheep yards as well because it’s believed that they improve handling of sheep and give operators more control over herding them into the right areas. 

U shaped sheep yards have acquired considerable appeal for sheep breeders looking to build custom sheep yards. Y shapes and U designs are also popular.  

The benefit of a U shaped type of custom sheep yard is that it’s a much simpler shape, building costs are lower and already built yards in a rectangular may be changed to this style quite easily. 

So, what are the elements that should be included in custom sheep yards of this shape? 

Large areas for holding

These regions can be built from fairly light materials to save construction expenses. There’s likely to be more pressure around the gates, necessitating the use of stronger materials. Make sure gates are at least a few metres wide as this will allow for simple entry from the outside of the yard and easy flow to the area where sheep will be confined. It’s a good rule of thumb to allow one sheep per square metre for the size and number of holding spaces on the farm. 

Narrow forcing yards 

Narrow and long forcing yards are ideal when building custom sheep yard, as this allows for the movement of sheep in mobs. In forcing yards, around 3 or so metres in is the ideal width because you will have less control in custom sheep yards that are more than 6 metres wide. To make it easier for the sheep to go around, use broad gates and avoid right-angled or sharp corners if possible. 

The ‘bugle’ shape 

With this shape, all of the yard’s attention is focused on a circular forcing pen. Every time a flock of sheep enters a yard, they travel through it in the same way. The same region is utilised to send sheep elsewhere like the work race, the dip, or the shearing shed. 

Circular yards are said to be efficient since sheep return to their paddocks in the same direction they came from, which is their natural flow. This is made easier by the use of the bugle. 

It’s important to cover the inside of the bugle’s fence for 5 metres back from where the draught begins. This is critical for a variety of reasons, including: 

  • They prefer to follow when they notice the mass moving around the next corner
  • The operator at the draught is not as likely to scare the sheep as they approach the turn.
  • Sheep cannot see the sheep behind them until they approach so they’re less likely to baulk

The entrance to the drafting race is critical in terms of design. The sheep will be able to stand, see the operator ahead of time and baulk if there is too much space left on the outer fence. To keep this from happening, turning into the drafting race area should be fairly tight and narrow. This area is heavily trafficked, so it needs to be built very robustly to handle the pressure. Race length should be around the 3 metre mark. In order to properly inspect the sheep, the operator must have ample time; if the race is too long, baulking can occur, causing movement and handling of the sheep to be disrupted. 

If you’re planning on building custom sheep yards, keep these things in mind and you should see good results!